Essential Oils For Baby Congestion – Oils That Work

By Maria Wilcox •  Updated: 10/17/22 •  8 min read
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You may have heard that essential oils are good for a cold which may have led you to wonder about essential oils for baby congestion. After all, your little one is sick, and you’d like to clear his or her sinuses without the use of too much medication. So, can you use essential oils? Which ones are safe? Let’s answer all of that and more in today’s post.

essential oils for baby congestion

Essential Oil Safety For Babies

Before we get into the details about using essential oils for baby congestion, it is important to know that I actually do not recommend you use essential oils, either topically or as aromatherapy for children under the age of 2.

The reason for this is that babies have very sensitive airways and skin. Whether you diffuse essential oils or apply them topically (which you should NEVER do undiluted) you actually pose a threat to your baby’s health. 

There are several reasons this is true. They include the following:

Essential Oils Are Concentrated

The first reason you may wish to avoid using essential oils on or around your baby is that they are very concentrated. Essential oils are essentially the oil of the essence of plant-based items or fruits in extremely concentrated forms. Though this unnatural amount of fragrance may smell good when diffused and may provide healing and relief for adult skin, baby skin is much more sensitive. 

In fact, just using “organic” products made with essential oils alone is enough to irritate your baby’s delicate skin. 

Don’t believe it? Take it from me. 

I was 100% into essential oils in baby products until I tested some on our newborn. She instantly had severe skin issues which resulted in rashes all over her face. It wasn’t until I switched to a gentle soap and lotion for babies that her skin conditions began clearing up. 

Take it for what it’s worth. Sometimes, these things aren’t worth the hype when it comes to delicate baby skin. 

essential oils for baby congestion

Essential Oils Burn

When your little one is sick, you may be tempted to apply a stronger and mintier essential oil to their chest to help break up congestion. This, friends, can be a very bad idea. Almost all essential oils will burn the skin on contact, and even when diluted, it may prove too much for sensitive baby skin.

Besides, many of your cooling minty types of essential oils are restricted for use on or near babies under a certain age. These include oils like eucalyptus, camphor, and wintergreen. Some of these may even be a bit risky to use when pregnant!

Thus, you won’t be left with many, if any, options for clearing your baby’s sinuses when he or she is sick.

Essential Oils Are Toxic When Swallowed

Never allow your baby to swallow essential oils. They are toxic even to adults when used this way. You certainly should not allow your baby to ingest them. 

Not All Essential Oils Are Baby-Friendly

Despite the prior warnings, there are some essential oils that are baby-friendly, but for the purposes of this post, you should know that they are ones that aren’t typically used for sickness and congestion. 

The oils that are safe, such as chamomile and mandarin (diluted, of course) may produce calming effects. But they likely won’t be effective for soothing coughs and congestion.

In fact, it may make things worse as the smell may irritate your little one’s respiratory system. 

Essential Oils For Babies With Cold

Now that we’ve gotten safety concerns out of the way, it is important to note that there are other ways you can soothe your baby’s cold and congestion symptoms (such as a fever) without the use of essential oils. These include using a humidifier, a manufactured baby-safe chest rub for babies, and medication specifically designed to loosen mucus in your little one. 

Note: When looking for the right medication, please be sure to check the age recommended on the package. There aren’t many medications out there for sick babies under 2 years old, but Hyland’s is a trusted brand that can be used to give sick babies 6 months and up some relief.

Infant and Baby Cold Medicine, Hyland's Naturals Baby Mucus + Cold Relief, Day & Night Value Pack, Decongestant and Cough Relief, 4 Fl Oz Each, 2 count (Pack of 1)
Buy on Amazon

Essential Oils in Humidifier For Baby Congestion

Remember that a humidifier can be awesome for baby congestion but I wouldn’t recommend pairing it with essential oils. Instead, use your humidifier without them. The moisture emitting from the humidifier alone will be enough to open your baby’s nasal passages and break up congestion naturally. Plus, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’re using plain water and won’t have to worry about irritants making your baby’s symptoms worse.

LEVOIT Humidifiers for Bedroom Large Room, 3L Cool Mist Top Fill Oil Diffuser for Baby Nursery and Plants, 360° Nozzle, Quiet Rapid Ultrasonic Humidification for Home Whole House, White
Buy on Amazon

What Essential Oils Are Good For Baby Congestion?

If after reading all of this you are still gungho about diffusing essential oils, know that there are only a select few that you can use safely around your child. Though essential oils for baby cough and congestion aren’t many, there are still a few options that may have calming effects on your child to at least help them sleep. 

These include:

  • Mandarin
  • Chamomile
  • Lemon
  • Dill

Please avoid the use of eucalyptus of all varieties until the age of 2. Other varieties, such as lavender, have been linked to having effects on the breasts, even in children as young as adolescence.

Thus, I wouldn’t recommend it for newborns either.

essential oils for baby congestion

Kid Safe Essential Oils For Cough

By the time your child reaches age 2, it may be okay to diffuse eucalyptus in small amounts around your child.

Be careful not to overdo it though. Even in adults, overexposure to essential oils can take a toll on your respiratory system. 

At 29 years old, though I loved everything essential oils, I developed an intolerance to them from overuse. I now cannot use any essential oils without experiencing allergy symptoms, no matter the oil type. Thus, I urge you to please be careful when using oils around babies and children.

Essential Oils For Baby Congestion? Eh…

Essential oils for baby congestion may sound like a good idea, but honestly, they will likely cause more harm than good. Do your research and know which oils are safe and how to properly dilute them. Better yet, avoid essential oils altogether until your child is at least two years old. 

If your child is currently battling congestion and cough, please consider using a humidifier and a natural chest rub specifically marketed for babies. These will be deemed safer options than diffusing concentrated versions of unsafe essential oils in the air that can infiltrate your child’s lungs. You can also try out safe homeopathic medicine specifically designed for infants to provide your baby with some relief. 

I hope this helps. 

essential oils for baby congestion


How can I decongest my baby naturally?

Try using a humidifier to increase the moisture in a room. This can thin mucus making it easier for your baby to breathe naturally.

Are essential oils safe for babies to inhale?

No, essential oils are not safe for babies to inhale, especially under the age of two. As mentioned before, some essential oils may even produce negative effects in children as old as adolescence. Please use caution when allowing children to inhale essential oils. 

How do you help a congested baby?

Sit your child upright and ensure they are hydrated (no water under the age of 6 months). Ensure the air has enough moisture and that if you are breastfeeding, you increase the amount of time you feed your baby. This pumps the baby full of good nutrients and antibodies that can help him or her fight the cold. 

Can you put essential oils in humidifier for baby?

I do not recommend placing essential oils in your humidifier for your baby.

Maria Wilcox

Former instructor with an M.A. in Education turned grateful stay-at-home mama to one, I look to share helpful insights related to babies, toddlers, kids, and families for the benefit of real people just like you.

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